Wall Street Journal Speculates that Android and Chrome OS Could Become One
A new report by the Wall Street Journal has tech journalists on a speculation bender regarding the possibility of Google merging its Android and Chrome OS platforms
into one. According to the WSJ, it could be as early as next year.
The move would put Android developers on their toes, requiring a great deal of extra work to catch up with the changes. The two systems are fundamentally different though both are Unix-based. On the one hand, Android has applications installed locally, like a traditional desktop operating system except on mobile devices. On the other, Chrome is a cloud-based system which requires the Internet to run.
Even if the merger or “folding” took place, Android is open source and manufacturers could continue to use it. A new team could even take over the development of Android, which, unlike Apple’s iOS, tends to see a wider variety of versions across the ecosystem. New features in the latest Android versions are often not applied to applications for fear that many users would not be able to install the applications then. Working for the lowest common denominator is often the safest way to do things. A certain percentage of Android phones still in use are using versions as far back as 2.4, whereas the latest version, 6.0, was recently announced.
TechCrunch writer Drew Olanoff believes the “folding” is likely.
If Pichai’s cry for mobile, mobile, mobile wasn’t enough to tip the hand that this may happen, the announcement of the Pixel C sure was. A kinda-laptop-tablet-running-full-on-Android.
Olanoff also points to the recent exit of Android co-founder Andy Rubin. Rubin left to start a hardware incubator, which could indicate that he knows something the rest of the industry doesn’t. But Olanoff also says that neither operating system will actually be killed off. It just seems that the future may see both of them being more interoperable, which would be beneficial to some users who are constantly on the go.
The push for more similarity between mobile and desktop has long been coming. The launch of the desktop Mac App Store had people speculating so much that Apple would be merging OS X and iOS that the company was forced to come out with a statement calling the potentiality a “non-goal” of the company last year.
Android has become a flagship product of Google over the years. The more open nature of its app store made it so that more apps were released on it in a shorter time. It is one of the most commonly used operating systems in the world, with an unknown number of devices on across the continents. Chrome has seen less adoption, though several Chromebooks have been successful, and the inexpensive devices rival their more full-blown counterparts in form factor and usability.
Whatever happens, Google’s position as a search giant seems to fade in importance (though remains permanent) as it moves more and more into hardware and software development.
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